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The Five Year Plan


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Good morning, all. My name is Don and my wife is Terrie. I'm 62, she is 60. We live in Las Vegas where I am a blackjack dealer and she's an office manager. Neither of us has a pension. SS is it for us. Maybe we'll hit $2k a month by the time we retire. Maybe. Like a whole lot of Americans, and we're the vanguard of the new normal, we are going to face a very meager retirement. Assuming we stay in LV, we are looking at a severely reduced lifestyle. So, the search for a retirement home begins. We can use all the advice we can get, and from extensively reading this wonderful message board, no doubt there is much wisdom here.

Our plan is a five year plan, to downsize, visit places, and get our minds ready for the move. Terrie wants to do art of some kind; I would like to teach people meditation. I was a Buddhist monk, and feel I can help people improve their lives. Where?

I've narrowed it down--without actually seeing the places--to three, maybe. Ajijic, San Miguel de Allende, and Medillin, Colombia. My plan for next year is to fly into Guadalajara and drive down to see you guys, then over to San Miguel--the northern route. 

We're very psyched about finishing our lives with one last great adventure. Perhaps over the next few months we'll make a lot of friends here. Your generosity is what we're looking for, as it has become short on supply in the US these days. Life is better when you have something to look forward to.

Namasakan, y'all.

Thanks,

Don and Terrie

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Such negative comments of Mexican people. All a gated community does is give you a false sense of security. A community does not have to gated to be regulated.

As someone who lives in a  gated community, I must say that that if I told my Mexican neighbors that you think they are a cancer on society they would laugh at you.  There is a lot to be said about no

IMSS does not "rule out" pre-existing conditions.  Rather it applies a waiting period during which they are not coverd.  IMHO if you're going to live here dump Medicare part B, part A is no-cost.

When I was looking at retirement 13 years ago, I was looking at either San Miguel, which I had read about for many years, and Ajijic/Chapala, which was new to me. I decided to look at both. Visited Ajijic in January, said "wrap it, I'll take it" and went back to Boston to pack up. Didn't get to San Miguel de Allende for 3 years, finally visited, was glad I chose Ajijic. Negatives about San Miguel: chilly in the winter, a long drive to the nearest international airport, hilly, a lot of homes in the hills owned by rich people who have several homes and may visit only a couple of months a year, not as big a choice of restaurants, seemed more expensive than Ajijic/Chapala. Very pretty place, but not for me.  But I did enjoy the smell of wood smoke on chilly nights, and the beauty of the place.

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Your forecast for your retirement income bodes well for a decent retirement lifestyle in Ajijic for the two of you. Not so well for comparable lifestyle in more expensive SMA.

You also might want to check the income requirements to become residents of Mexico. 

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My spouse and I retired to San Miguel back in 2004, expecting a lively art scene.  That is a memory only, these days. Very disappointed in that aspect. 

It was and still is possible to buy a house at a reasonable price if you are willing to live in the hills in the middle of a mostly Mexican barrio, as we did.  We sold out and moved to the Lakeside area for health reasons, and were pleased to find a very active art association.  The climate was milder and the altitude worked better for my health.  Dining out was less expensive than in SMA, and the people are definitely friendlier.  However, it's all a matter of how good a "fit" one place or the other turns out to be.  I'd recommend spending some time (more than a week) in each place and getting the "vibe".  Best of luck.

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Thanks very much for the replies. I'm soaking it all in.

1 hour ago, JayBearII said:

Very pretty place, but not for me.

I understand. Horses for courses. Part of the plan is renting for a year, scouting, and moving around. Once we make the move, it will be clothes on our backs. Terrie may differ. lol

1 hour ago, Al Berca said:

You also might want to check the income requirements to become residents of Mexico. 

Indeed. Our goal is to achieve permanent residency, and we should make the mark. Living in Vegas may be an advantage as the consulate here has a reputation of being more accommodating, shall we say? :)

Climate is a big factor. Our plan is to visit at the worst possible time of year. No surprises. Living without delusion is a big part of my Buddhist practice. Open eyes all the way. Until we actually visit next year, (June or July?), we won't know much at all about where we want to live that first year. But we're pretty excited about it.

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You can live on just SS here, however, best not live among a bunch expats where it is typically more costly.  However, there are options not too far way.  One thing that will narrow down your options is whether or not your will have a car.  Without a car can definitely be done, but you want to be near a bus route.  You could find a place right in Chapala which will be less costly, however, quite noisy.  You would be able to walk everywhere and bus is easily accessible to get to other areas such as Ajijic, etc.  There are other options as well.

I have not been to Medellin, but I did research it as an option when we were looking.  We had to eliminate it due to the higher elevation for health reasons.  It is a more European style of life and there are many people from all over the world.  I think we would have really liked it, so if I were you and you have no problem with the elevation, I would really look into it.  It may offer more of the things that are of interest to you as our area is pretty much saturated and a small town with limitations.  Also, the cost of living here has really increased due to the influx of expats.

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10 minutes ago, Cactus Jack said:

Thanks very much for the replies. I'm soaking it all in.

I understand. Horses for courses. Part of the plan is renting for a year, scouting, and moving around. Once we make the move, it will be clothes on our backs. Terrie may differ. lol

Indeed. Our goal is to achieve permanent residency, and we should make the mark. Living in Vegas may be an advantage as the consulate here has a reputation of being more accommodating, shall we say? :)

Climate is a big factor. Our plan is to visit at the worst possible time of year. No surprises. Living without delusion is a big part of my Buddhist practice. Open eyes all the way. Until we actually visit next year, (June or July?), we won't know much at all about where we want to live that first year. But we're pretty excited about it.

If climate is a big factor, visit SMA in January.  Brrrr.

Visit Lakeside in May.  The hottest month. Gasp.

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7 minutes ago, gringal said:

Visit Lakeside in May.  The hottest month. Gasp.

If you’re from Las Vegas our May should not bother you. We have some new friends who moved here from Las Vegas a few months ago. They were fine in May. Their background is similar to yours. The wife’s keeps saying “pinch me, I think I have died and gone to heaven.”

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I neglected to say "consider the altitude". We are high here, oddly, because it seems flat, with mountains to the north and the Lake to the south. But, people with heart conditions can find it hard here. Me, my blood pressure was fine in the US. Here, due to the altitude and advancing age, I had to start taking meds. And San Miguel is higher.

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I recommend that you read the book that explains all the stuff you need to know about the culture and traditions of this country. It is an easy read with info not shared on this or other expat sites and forums.

61WtC8B-zbL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe People's Guide to Mexico Paperback – October 2, 2012

Amazon sells it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1598809601/?tag=thepeoplsguideto

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In my remarks earlier, I did forget to consider the income requirements for achieving residency.  I would suggest going to Sonia Diaz's web site as all the information is there.  If residency is what you ultimately want, then this is important to check first and foremost.  Otherwise, you may get here, like it, then find out you do not qualify.

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17 hours ago, Zeb said:

You can live on just SS here, however, best not live among a bunch expats where it is typically more costly.  However, there are options not too far way.  One thing that will narrow down your options is whether or not your will have a car.  Without a car can definitely be done, but you want to be near a bus route.  You could find a place right in Chapala which will be less costly, however, quite noisy.  You would be able to walk everywhere and bus is easily accessible to get to other areas such as Ajijic, etc.  There are other options as well.

I have not been to Medellin, but I did research it as an option when we were looking.  We had to eliminate it due to the higher elevation for health reasons.  It is a more European style of life and there are many people from all over the world.  I think we would have really liked it, so if I were you and you have no problem with the elevation, I would really look into it.  It may offer more of the things that are of interest to you as our area is pretty much saturated and a small town with limitations.  Also, the cost of living here has really increased due to the influx of expats.

Thank you very much for the reply. Lots of good food for thought, like the rest of the replies we're getting. Marvelously helpful.

By the time we're ready to retire, no doubt today may not reply. Nobody knows what is going to happen in the US, and when the US catches cold, the rest of the world shivers. We'll have to see what unfolds I guess. (My current guess is a change in the govt in 2020, and the dollar will rise in value, so that's all to the good. How many US citizens have fled and how many will come back? Might sink housing costs overseas.)

Re: car. My current ride, a three year old Ford Focus, will be ready for replacement. From my research, buying a car in Mexico is the preferred route. I would be fine with buses and taxis, but my wife will have to be convinced. Noise, however, and thank you for bringing that up, is definitely a consideration, for sure. I'm hearing that Mexico is pretty exuberant. We're at 2000 ft in Vegas.

Re: Medellin. Terrie right now is leaning toward a smaller town. She would rather be outside of town. I'm all for the big city. I loved living in Chicago, once upon a time. So that's going to take a trip, I think. One thing I think is kind of interesting. LV is a city of 2 mil, spread out across the valley. Beyond that is desert. Lots of desert. My joke is it takes four hours to get out of town. From what I've seen of Medellin, it the same, substituting jungle for desert. There may be more homes outside of town, but not much. It won't be Dallas, my hometown, with lots of towns I didn't know existed growing up. Too far out in the country.

Thanks again for the reply. This is stimulating. A final adventure. :)

17 hours ago, gringal said:

If climate is a big factor, visit SMA in January.  Brrrr.

Visit Lakeside in May.  The hottest month. Gasp.

It gets unreasonably cold here in January, considering how we suffer in summer. Not a big deal for sure. LOL about being hot in May. Probably what we've experienced this week, which is delightful after the summer we had, topping out at 117, tying the record high. Perhaps a new normal, which is pretty scary.

16 hours ago, AngusMactavish said:

I recommend that you read the book that explains all the stuff you need to know about the culture and traditions of this country. It is an easy read with info not shared on this or other expat sites and forums.

Thanks. Ordered. Too bad there's no Kindle version. I'm spoiled. I've been reading John Sherber's books about SMA. Zeb's suggestion that cost of living might be beyond our means is definitely a consideration, for sure. But there must be other untapped places in Mexico, too. We wouldn't mind being pioneers. We're open-minded.

15 hours ago, Zeb said:

If residency is what you ultimately want, then this is important to check first and foremost.  Otherwise, you may get here, like it, then find out you do not qualify.

One question I can't seem to find the answer to: Does the +$2k requirement apply per person, or family total. We shouldn't have any problem meeting the requirement together. We certainly plan on this being permanent, burning the ships at the shoreline. I dream of a day we pick up our suitcases for the ride to the airport as the GoodWill truck drives away.

I came to Las Vegas from Ft. Myers, FL after losing everything to Hurricane Charley in 2005 with two suitcases and a cat. I've done this before. I came to Vegas to live without ever visiting. Scary, landing at 10:30 at night without a place to stay or a plan, but I did it. Terrie left everything behind in Michigan 25 years ago. She's a bit more reluctant, but game. We're not that close to family, even our grandchildren, so it's just the two of us. Our last adventure in a lifetime of them.

15 hours ago, gringal said:

His current wife might object.:rolleyes:

You have no idea. :D

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1 minute ago, Cactus Jack said:

If you can provide a link, which must be hidden from my view, I'd be much obliged. All I find is paperback versions. Thanks. :)

https://www.amazon.com/Peoples-Guide-Mexico-Carl-Franz-ebook/dp/B06XCGB593/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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Two cents worth. I moved to the Lakeside area 5 years ago and lived, in sequence, in Jocotepec, Chapala and now Ajijic. In February I will relocate to the east side of Mexico, to Cuernavaca. It is a city with cheaper prices on rent than here and more access to the arts and science. And to the practice of Buddhism. Ajijic is so crowded now that the roads are congested, even in the rainy/hot seasons and as all the houses that were rentals are now sold, rents are going steadily up. For a new person, this will be problematic. I also urge you to apply for temporary visas while you're still working and have income in your bank accounts. That's what I did and even though I said, once I'm in Mexico I will only have SS, they issued me with that visa. After 4 years I applied for and was given permanent status. Lastly, it's lovely to think that you can walk and bus everywhere, it limits many things. Especially if you arrive without a rental that puts you in a location near shopping etc. And often those locations come with a premium for rent and proximity to noise. These are just considerations and experience. I wish you and your wife a great transition. Do try to learn the language now, it will help!

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16 minutes ago, IMBurnen said:

I also urge you to apply for temporary visas while you're still working and have income in your bank accounts. That's what I did and even though I said, once I'm in Mexico I will only have SS, they issued me with that visa.

As noted above, living in LV gives us an advantage with the consulate here being liberal with visas. Thanks for your info. How long did the process of getting a temp visa take? Should we apply before we visit next year?

No doubt some things will change over the next five years. How much has Ajijic changed in the past five years? Seems like a real challenge to stay flexible at a time in life when our minds are more frequently resisting change.

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48 minutes ago, Cactus Jack said:

So, a brief poll of respondents on household and personal items?

How many came with a change of clothes and how many shipped their Keurig machine and Calphalon pans? lol

I've got a lot of books I would like to keep.

Just bear in mind that movers charge by weight.  Most things you may want or need can be purchased in Mexico.  Appliances have been designed for the power here.  Books are heavy. Kindles are portable libraries.  Costco carries good cookware and Home Depot carries most other stuff.  What to bring?  Things close to your heart.  Heirlooms that will be like old friends in your new home.  Also bear in mind that the bazaars and thrift shops have a wealth of choices, since heirs are not inclined to haul their parents' stuff back to the States. 

Welcome and best of luck!

 

 

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Namaste, gringal! Those are some great tips. One of the challenges we are going to face is letting go of some cherished items. Gives us a chance to practice our mindfulness. It's going to have to be turned on full-power for these almost funereal moments. We'll have to focus on stuff like going to thrift stores. :)

One of the things I like about the ex-pat author, John Sherber, is his idea of reinventing oneself. Terrie and I have only been together a few years. Both of us has decades of crust forming over us. I failed to reinvent my outside when I put on robes, but did when I moved to Las Vegas, played poker for a living, and became a dealer. This will be part of the fun. We can discover who we really are.

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Do not apply for your visas until you are about ready to make the move.  Once approved by the consulate, you have 6 months to enter Mexico; then, 30 days to report to INM, with proof of address in Mexico, to begin the canje process (tramite) to process the actual visa, which can take a couple of months. Once issued, you are free to leave and re-enter Mexico at will, and will be able to obtain RFC, CURP, Seguro Popular, register a Mexican purchased vehicle, etc., etc.   Enjoy!!!!

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